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SYFY WIRE The Simpsons

Fox renews The Simpsons through 2021, but Disney could make a killing by canceling it

By Josh Weiss
The Simpsons

The Simpsons will continue to entertain audiences for at least another two seasons, as Fox just renewed the animated comedy for Seasons 31 and 32, SYFY WIRE has confirmed. News of the renewal came from the TCA winter press tour.

Even without the forthcoming seasons, the adult-oriented cartoon created by Matt Groening is the longest-running primetime scripted show in television history, wresting the title from Gunsmoke during its 29th season.

That being said, everyone's favorite yellow-tinged family may not have an indefinite lifespan due to the upcoming Disney-Fox merger, which is set to change the landscape of entertainment forever. Per Variety, the House of Mouse could take the The Simpsons out to pasture and make a lucrative killing in the process.

It all comes down to production costs and syndication deals. In recent years, episodes have cost more money than they actually end up making. Inflation being what it is, that figure of financial loss has only risen with the passage of time.

Moreover, old syndication deals from the 1990s state that new syndication bargains cannot be struck until the show is no longer airing on Fox. When FX secured the rights to air every episode of The Simpsons in 2013, they actually needed to gain permission from the TV stations that were part of those aforementioned deals. The FX price tag cost around $750 million (the agreement expires in 2023), but a new syndication setup could be worth a lot more than that.

“It’ll set a record because it will be such a huge library,” media consultant Brad Adgate, told Variety.

Like we said, however, nothing can be established until the show is eventually canceled, which could seem very enticing to Disney's balance sheet. Should they end up terminating the series after more than three decades, they can break up all the episodes into chunks and license them out to a host of other outlets (streaming or otherwise) for a hefty fee — a plan first conceived by Fox. Disney could also keep the brand in-house and use it to bolster its own streaming platform, Disney+

"When the show ends, I would think that it will be because the creators of the show and the producers don’t want to do it anymore, not because two media conglomerates got together,” Adgate added. “I think the show deserves a better ending.”

Currently in the middle of its 30th season, The Simpsons will air its 652nd episode— "I'm Dancing as Fat as I Can" — on February 10.